‘Sing in me, Muse, through me tell the story of that man skilled in all ways of contending, the wanderer, harried for years on end, after he plundered the stronghold on the proud height of Troy.’

                        Red in Hell

Our lifeless flesh was gnawed,
clean from the white of bones.

Above, the living aged:
knees buckled and teeth fell,
hair turned the colour of sheep.

That earth is Autshumato’s
and Doman’s
Sotho and Mnguni disappeared.

Why not ask of Moshoeshoe?
Their arrival fuelled the wrath
of our flaming souls.

With Fischer, Sobukwe, Mdluli,
Biko, Mokgabudi, Rabilal...
Gordon Dikebu,
the conflagrations flared.

We sang with joy,
as Mandela and Zuma danced,
thinking it a prelude to victory.

An illusion!

Our offspring remain beasts of burden,
change diapers of other’s children;
dig their gold for peanuts,
harvest vineyards for wine-cups.

Pay rent to foreigners!

Government is in negotiations.
Now wrangling over catchphrases:
Radical Economic Transformation,
third phase BBB-BEE...

Call Cetshwayo’s regiments!
Where are Gonnema’s darts?
Mokopane’s fire-sticks?

God forbid!
Are those the warriors?


Pampered like a harlot,
violated day and night;
lest conquest devour you,
like thy emaciated children,
drink Nxele’s concoctions.

Nurture thy salvation,
confound thy enemies;
Bring forth heroines!